More than two years after Roger Clemens told Congress that he had never taken steroids or human growth hormone, the seven-time Cy Young Award winner reaffirmed his denial Monday as he pleaded not guilty in federal court to charges that he lied to a congressional panel about the alleged doping.
The indictment does not offer specific proof that Clemens ever used the banned drugs, but alleges that he lied to Congress when he rejected the claims of others who said he had used the substances. Those claims grew from a 2007 report on doping in baseball that alleged that Clemens had “used anabolic steroids on multiple occasions in 1998, 2000 and 2001, and HGH on multiple occasions in 2000.”
A status hearing on the defense’s review of the evidence was set for Dec. 8, with a preliminary hearing on the case scheduled for March 28.
The former pitcher, who last played in 2007, has publicly denied the allegations ever since release of the report, which was commissioned by Major League Baseball and conducted by former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell (D-Maine).
The allegations in the report were based largely on statements from Clemens’ former trainer, Brian McNamee, who cooperated with investigators in exchange for assurance that he would not be prosecuted.
In response to the report, Clemens volunteered to testify under oath before congressional staff.
“I am just making it as possibly clear as I can,” Clemens said at the deposition on Feb. 5, 2008. “I haven’t done steroids or human growth hormone.”
Eight days later, he reiterated the denial during sworn testimony at a public hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
“Let me be clear,” Clemens said. “I have never taken steroids or HGH.”
On Aug. 19 of this year, the government announced a federal grand jury had indicted Clemens on charges of lying to Congress.
Clemens again denied the allegations.
“I never took HGH or steroids,” he wrote in a Twitter message hours after the indictment was made public. “And I did not lie to Congress.”
Clemens, 48, was a star pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees and Houston Astros. In 23 seasons, he was an 11-time All-Star who recorded 354 wins, 4,672 strikeouts and a career earned-run average of 3.12. His career statistics would make him a cinch for the Hall of Fame when he is eligible in 2013, but a conviction related to the steroid scandal would cast doubt on his accomplishments in the eyes of many voters.
Clemens is charged with three counts of making false statements, two counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice. If convicted, he faces up to a $1.5 million fine and 30 years in prison, though under federal sentencing guidelines he is more likely to face a sentence of 15 to 21 months.